Japanese traditional wedding ceremony~神前式(Shinzenshiki)~

In April-June of Sipring and October – November of autumn will be the seasons when a marriage ceremony increases in Japan.

A marriage ceremony is held at various places and an opportunity to see will also increase.

I introduce this time the “Shinto wedding ceremoniy(神前式:Shinzenshiki)” which is a wedding ceremony of a traditional style of Japan.

The history of a wedding ceremony of Japan is old, and various anecdotes are left behind.

In the Heian period, there is a custom of “通い婚:Kayoikon” it’s a form of marriage where the husband attend to him wife’s side. And arranged a banquet on the third day for formally present. It is supposed that a thing similar to a present-day wedding reception.

In the Edo period, the public type of marriage ceremony is “Civil wedding ceremony” that was held at their own house with invited people of a relative or the neighborhood.

The showy embroidered clothes called the “打掛:Uchikake” came into use, and the customs of the “dress change” which changes a bridal outfit for an announcement were produced.

These lineages were belonged to, the style the “Shinto ceremony” which holds a marriage ceremony from the middle of Meiji Era in a shrine was established, and it spread nationally. Now, it is held at various places, such as not only a shrine but a ceremony hall, and a hotel.


Let’s introduce the general flow of a Shinto wedding ceremony.


The entrance:


By guidance of a “shrine maiden”, a groom and a bride go up to a Main Hall.


In the right side of shrine groom’s family sit in, And the right side is bride’s family’s seat.

A relative sits on the strong order of blood relationship from the direction near the place where God is deified.


The groom wears the full dress called“紋付はかま-Montsuki hakama-”

The bride wears the kimono which is called “白無垢-Shiromuku-” and which social status is the highest and only a bride can wear at the time of a marriage ceremony. It is common to wear the hat called a “綿帽子-Wataboushi-” to a traditional Japanese women’s hairstyle”日本髪-Nihongami-“ It seems that it came to wear over the customs “the bride cannot see a face to any persons other than the husband until a ceremony ends” like a veil of a wedding dress.


祝詞奏上(Norito soujyo):

“Norito” is language which it carries out to gods. Shinto priest reports them marriage to God, and pray that the happiness continues forever.


三献の儀(Sankon no gi):


A newlywed couple drinks and exchanges sacred sake by turns with three cups of small,

medium, and large size, they exchange an eternal vow of marriage.

The first cup is groom → bride of order, the 2nd cup bride → groom of the order, the 3rd cup will drink in the order of the groom → bride. Two lots of the beginning are carried out to such an extent that they attach a cup to a mouth, and they are drunk by the 3rd lot. Three cups mean “heavens”, the “ground”, and a “person”, respectively, “number 3” and “number 9” means congratulate and highest.

It is called “一献-Ikkon-” that a cup takes a round. If the round is three sets of cup “三献-Sankon-“, Since this is repeated 3 times, it is also called “三三九度-San san kudo”


誓詞奉読(Seishi Houdoku):


It is a ceremony in which a newlywed couple reads out the language of an oath of husband and wife.

A groom reads out the language of an oath after a bow in the front of a shrine, and, finally it reads a name. A bride reads and adds her name following a groom.


玉串奉殿(Tamagushi Houden):

About a “玉串-Tamagushi-” that Sakak(榊)those that gave a paper appendix (紙垂―Shide-) to the twigs , which serves to connect with the people and God. There is a meaning which hardens relation with God by offering this before a shrine.

When turning to the front of a shrine the “玉串-Tamagushi-” received from Shinto priest ,

Makes it half-rotate clockwise and a root is turned to the front of a shrine. And do bow and applause each 2 times.


巫女舞(Miko mai): 

The shrine maiden will dance the shaman dance with Japanese court music.


親族盃の儀(Shinzoku Katameno Sakazuki):


A shrine maiden fills sacred sake to relatives all, and they drink of the cup in attendance everyone. It is a ceremony in which relatives’ relation is hardened. It obtains in three lots like “三三九度-San san kudo-“


斎主祝辞(Saishu Shukuji)

The words of congratulation from the priest who governs the wedding.

A front-of-a-shrine ceremony is a wonderful opportunity touched by culture and tradition of Japan. A shrine exists forever, and since it is a place which can be visited at any time, whenever it visits, an eternal pledge of impression of the day of a ceremony and husband and wife can be recollected. This is also one of the charm of the Shinto  ceremony in a shrine.


It is also wishing you have an opportunity to encounter a Shinto wedding ceremony in Japan. It will surely become unforgettable.


Today’s place “Meguro Gajyoen”

Japanese traditional wedding site